It’s been quite a year. Like you, I began 2021 thinking it would include the ‘end’ of the pandemic—an idea that now feels absurdly naïve. As the year comes to a close, however, I find myself basking in gratitude for the things I was able to do, the relationships I’ve felt blossom, and the possibilities I see ahead. It’s a great place to be, and I find myself happily dwelling on the topic of gratitude. Inspired in part by this article from Stephanie Bogan (written at the end of 2020), I’ve decided to write my own ‘thank you letter’ to 2021. Here goes…
- Thank you, 2021, for taking me to Rancho La Puerta and giving me the perfect getaway with my ‘little’ sister, Susan. ‘The Ranch’ has given me so many fantastic opportunities. To be in nature (a goal I wrote about back in August 2020 here). To enjoy time with interesting people… and to be completely alone. To savor wonderful, healthy food. To meditate and move. To spend beautiful days with my sister to rediscover our ‘inner children’—together. I am grateful for every moment.
- Thank you, 2021, for bringing new people and relationships into my personal ‘constellation.’ Early in the year, I joined a new synagogue and Chavurah, which offers me many new friendships. After being forced to shift my client meetings to Zoom due to COVID (which I initially hated!), I found that our work together was more intentional—and that our connections were deepened and strengthened. Last Saturday, I enjoyed lunch with a mother and daughter I met at The Ranch. The mother lives on New York’s Lower East Side but, happily, was visiting her daughter in Los Angeles for the holidays. I am grateful for these and many other new, cherished people in my life.
- Thank you, 2021, for helping me realize that I have the freedom to say ‘no.’ During the lockdown in 2020, I recognized that my life was far too busy. I was over-scheduled and felt like a hamster on a wheel that never stopped spinning. This year, I made a conscious decision to hold on to some of the quietness I discovered when I was forced to stay home. I took a break from serving on any Boards. I skipped the theater. I read more, slept more, and hurried less. I am grateful for the time to slow down and rethink who and how I want to be in the world.
- Thank you, 2021, for the memories of the people I’ve loved and lost. The deaths of my first love, father of my children, and ex-husband, Bob; my valued friend and life coach, Alyse; and my long-time client Phyllis allowed me to focus on what I shared with each of them—especially the love and the laughter. Whenever we lose someone, we eulogize them in our hearts and minds, knowing that the memories are all we have left. I’m grateful for the past, and I understand that creating new memories is the most important way to spend my time and energy.
- Thank you, 2021, for binding me closer to my family. After my son’s marriage ended, my grandchildren could have easily chosen to close doors to the people around them—including me. Instead, they have asked me in, inviting me to share their hurt and to help when I can. My rewards: my grandson told me that I “always says something that makes [him] feel better” and, even as teenagers, they are choosing to spend their winter holiday with me. I’m grateful for the opportunity to hold them close and be loved by the ones I love.
With that abundance of gratitude, I will walk into 2022 with an appreciation for what I have. Jamie and I will enter a new chapter in our work with our clients (watch for an exciting announcement on January 21, 2022!). I will go out into the world and welcome more new people into my life. I will continue to say ‘no’ more often, so I can say ‘yes’ when I choose. I will take small steps that open doors with no expectations for what lies ahead. I will travel—to The Ranch (my new happy place!), perhaps to Morocco with friends from my new synagogue, and to see my children and grandchildren and create new memories for all of us. And I will take to heart the words of Deborah Szekely, the founder of Rancho La Puerta (who will turn 100 in May), when asked for her secret to aging: “Always do the right thing.” I know I won’t succeed every time, but I am making it my mission to get it right—to do the right thing—whenever I can. Alyce once instructed me to ask myself the question, “When I show up, what shows up with me?” The older I get, the more I believe that living in gratitude will help me “show up” with the best version of myself.
If I can offer you one small gift this holiday season, it is this: that my ramblings on gratitude inspire you to write your own letter of thanks to 2021. I promise it will fill your heart. And if you’d like to share it with me, I’d love to read it!
I wish you a wonderful holiday season and a New Year filled with gratitude!